Saturday, August 31, 2013

Itni si khushi

            We were at a small store a few days back. It is a Mangalore store from where Mom buys brown rice, pickles, spices and other things which are from Mangalore. It is an all purpose store really and there is no time when there is a lull in the traffic that keeps coming. The owner of the store, an elderly uncle, manages the store.

            For the time that I was standing in front of the small store while Mom was busy shopping, I kept looking at the customers.

            A girl in her twenties came to buy Maggi  Noodles. Just back from office and tired as she looked, I presumed that this is going to be her dinner. The shop owner manages the counter and  he shouted orders to his helper to fetch the goods. The girl rummaged through her purse for money. Endless receipts, bus tickets, face napkins and what not came out but for the elusive change!
           " Paisa nahi nikal raha kya?" the shopkeeper asked her rather rudely.
           She looked embarrassed as she handed him a note and went away. Those who frequent the shop know that he meant no insult. It is just his way of talking :P

           A South Indian woman entered. The uncle smiled at her. She looked every part a Mangalorean house wife. She asked for Rassam Masala and suddenly Mom was interested in the same :P

           As my Mom kept delaying, two kids caught my attention. The small girl was talking on the phone in the shop. She was about 6 or 7 maybe. From what I gathered, she was asking her mother when she would return. The small boy with her, about 4 or 5 years old, was trying to drop into the conversation. Her brother for sure! There is something about a brother-sister pair that instantly warms me up to them. Call me biased but I have never really felt that about sisters :P

          Luminous dark complexioned skin, large bright eyes, silky thick hair and thin framed, they personified innocence as they chattered away on the phone. It began to beep and uncle roared from the other end, "Badhau kya?"
         The girl kept the receiver down and asked sweetly,
        "Uncle how much did it cost?" ( In Marathi ofcourse :P)
        " 2 rupees"
        "Ok" she said and ran to the house close by. Her younger brother tagged behind her.
         The uncle kept staring at them until a few new customers came. A school going boy asking for Cello gripper pen. A youngster asking for matchbox. IT was never ending.

         The pair came back with money. The girl gave 2 rupees for the call and counted the change that she had. She smiled when she saw that she had a few coins extra to spare. She scanned the various jars filled with biscuits and other eateries.
         "Should we buy the chaklis?" she asked her brother.
         He made a face at her. Just the way kids make to show their disapproval.
         She searched further to get his nod.
         "Kaccha aam??" she asked.
         His eyes lighted up.
          " Ha ha Kaccha aam! Kaccha aam! Kaccha aam! " He started jumping where he was.

        His shouts and dancing suddenly had more spectators. All smiling indulgently.
        She gave her coins to the shopkeeper. He gave her 2 kaccha aam chocolates.
        She went to the other side of the street.
        The boy put his hands forward with a huge smile.
        " What are you dancing so much for huh?" the shopkeeper asked him and handed him 2 chocolates.
        "Only two?" He asked dejected.
        "Take this. This is bakshees for you." the shopkeeper laughed his grandfatherly laugh as he handed two extra chocolates to the boy.
        Just two 50 paise chocolates had painted a million dollar smile on his face. He happily hopped to the other side to tell his sister. They both leaped excitedly as they spilt their share.

       I felt that happiness wrap me too. There was something so touching in those emotions that they could feel so openly, so unhesitating and without reading deeper into it. So easily they could find happiness in that small thing!

      Along the years, we lose that genuine smile. That lighting up of the eyes. That completely acceptable happiness. Why can't we accept happiness that easily? Why do we dwell on it so much that it passes us by, without touching us?  Why do we harden up? Why do we fear to feel happy? Why is that when I saw those kids, I sent a small prayer to heaven to keep that happiness intact? Why did I fear that someday their hearts will break?

      I wonder why kaccha aam doesn't make me that happy! IF only we all could find happiness in small things that easily!

This felt like the perfect thing to share here. Lifted from facebook ofcourse :P 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Whiff of good luck

              My house smells of the rain all the time.Yes, that over rated fragrance of the soil as the first drops of rain quench the thirst of the land. All you need is to open the large French windows and let the air in. The moisture laden winds bring in the hints of rain. Sometimes when the weather is humid, you might feel the wind in your hair. Dampened with invisible water, you will feel the salt on your skin. Without me telling, you would guess that the sea is nearby. Correction. It is the creek that is hidden by the concrete jungle. If you stare into the horizon, you can see the mangroves from my room. Mangroves that guard the creek on the other side. On a clear day, you can enjoy the view of mountains far beyond. This is no description of some remote place in some untouched part of the world. It is right in Mumbai. My house that smells of rain.
             Early in the morning, when the first rays of sunlight are yet to reach below, my house smells of dew. The plants in the nursery bed, emanate a herbal fragrance. The holy basil dominates the lot. On some days, the rose decides to oblige us with a visit and becomes the chief attraction. My mother tends to them with love. Sometime later, my father waters them all. Plants in all the three rooms appear fresh and happy when he does that. It is then that the smell of the rains is all around. It is the soil that my parents maintain in all the pots. Gingerly changing them at regular interval. Boosting it with manure. The soil that brings the smell of rain..
             My father plucks the white flowers every morning for his prayers. The house smells of white flowers and sandal incense stick in that hour. Far away, the fog clears and the mountains stand proud. All through the day my house smells of different things, rains being the constant.
            The ginger tea boiling in the mornings
            The saute of dal
            The fragrance of each member as they get dressed for the day
            The lingering smell of chicken being cooked on sunday afternoons
            The evenings smelling of laundry
            The nights again smelling of food
            The house always smelling of rain..

            Once in three months or so, the house will smell of something that has so many memories attached to it. It will start to waft softly that evening and then suddenly overwhelm us with joy as the night grows. By midnight the smell begins to wander and then it drops like the flower itself.. Our dear Brahmakamal..
            It wasn't ours when it was brought. It had been with our friendly neighbor for years, without ever bearing. She left it with us when she shifted. It sat with our plants when we stayed in society. Receiving the same care and nurture that other plants in our house got. Wonder of wonders happened when we saw the bud emerging stealthily from the long leaf. We promptly brought the plant in to protect it from the birds that could pluck. I was just 12 then and it was an event that incited great excitement. They say that it happens only once a year.
            The night that it first bloomed to its full glory was also the time my father got his much awaited promotion. A promotion that was long over due (10 years he attempted) but was kept away due to various earmarking in government office. He came home with sweets that night. A large number of people came to our house to see the beautiful flower and we rejoiced at the pristine white of the flower, its intricate beauty and the divine fragrance. I remember we gave sweets to all who came!
            It was then that the flower signified good luck.
           IT was a miracle. It still is. Every year we are visited by the flower more than once. It still makes us gleefully look at it blooming hour by hour. It is nothing short of a marvel that it makes me so happy and upbeat to breathe that fragrance. It eases the weight on my chest and I take it as a sign of something good to happen. In years that progressed, it has become something I associate with home. Home is where I will get that comfort. When things go down and bad, I await that miracle. When decisions become wrong and choices blurred, somehow miraculously a flower blooms. I pray silently and my problems ease. I feel there is an intervention from above. My belief makes me think clear and determined. The power of that belief is such. It has become my whiff of good luck..
         How else do I explain its presence
        When my CAP results were out and I was confused about the course..
        When I was broken in ways I never will be again..
        When the comparisons were killing my confidence..

        It is during that one day of Brahmakamal's presence, my house smells like memories. If  memories had a smell, that would be it. The smell of rain fused with the fragrance of Brahmakamal..


         This post is written for Indiblogger Smelly to Smiley contest

Friday, August 23, 2013

A matter of Choice

              The cab roared to a start yet again and after a few blocks it got stuck again in the evening traffic. The digital traffic signal, contrary to its purpose, had created a chaos due to it's break down. The hassled drivers cursed each other and honked aimlessly as the vehicles crawled. It was getting dark and cold. The school kids recklessly hopped along the cross roads, not heeding the whistling of the traffic patrol team. The urchins and sellers busily carried on to cash in on this opportunity. They banged on the windows of the rich to part with a few notes, harassed the passengers to buy their goods and terrorized the kids with their lurid stories of misfortune.

              Inside the air-conditioned cab, a woman sat absorbed in a magazine. Unperturbed by the frenzy outside, she pored over the glossy pages. The windows were rolled up and the faint music on FM  buzzed around her. The driver of the cab savored her lustfully. He adjusted the mirror to get a better view of her. He ogled at the milky white bosoms that seemed to rebel with her skin tight, black ,netted blouse. Gazing down, her tenuous waist curved perfectly and her thighs played hide and seek with the side cut of her skirt. She looked up through her glares and saw his lascivious eyes and ignored it.

              "Why don't you just take the car on one side of the road and stare?" she chided at him
              He was shocked by her boldness.
              " How will you take me to the toll?" she asked
              " From.. from the side " he garbled and steered his vehicle to the side of the road and waited for the slow moving traffic to pace. Once across the signal, he had to take a right turn.

             IT didn't matter to her. Those eyes that devoured her. It once inflated her ego. She was callow then.

            She always set out before time. Never once, in her career of 5 years, she had been late. She never had to knit her brows in frustration and hope for the clock to stop. She always allocated room for a car breakdown, accident, traffic problem and million other reasons that could delay her!
            She avoided looking out of the car on her way to work. The prospects weren't good. IT was always a face of deprivation, poverty and injustice. Or her past..

             It wasn't a good idea to be travelling on this route. This road was dangerous. It had ghosts of her past. Ghost that she stared right in the eyes when she looked outside..

            Only, he was oblivious to her existence as he blared on his cellphone. Still the same arrogance.
It astounded her, the sudden shot of blood through her system. It made her aware of everything within her. She felt frighteningly fragile and feminine. A flush of pink more intense than the rouge she was painted in.
            In a matter of seconds, she felt like the 20 year old naive girl in love,that she once was. It was heartbreaking to see him after 6 years.. How handsome he still was.. Just a few lines near the eyes that made him even more desirable as he smiled. Only, he did not smile at her. He stared at a distance, awaiting someone. Like he waited for her every evening..

            "Don't be so selfish. Open your eyes and look around. One has to work to make life better."
            She had rolled her eyes at his lecture.
            " Don't start over again. Can you do it for me or not?" she asked
            " What you are asking out of me isn't love. IT is some childish notion of love. I cannot love you that
             way. The kind of romance in movies isn't for real!" he had said.
            " This relation is a waste of time. You cannot give me time, you cannot pamper me with gifts, you cannot do anything special! I m wasting my time!"
            "Then just walk out!" he had shouted in anger.
             She had walked out.

            He had tried to reason with her several times. He had plans to marry her. It was his way of commitment. To work and make her life comfortable after marriage. It all looked so ordinary to her. To marry and beget children and then continue the cycle. So mediocre. She was meant for greater things.
           She impulsively unrolled the window. As if on a cue, he turned to face her. He was taken aback to see her. She searched for some expression on his face but drew a blank. He approached her and her spirits lifted. It terrified her to acknowledge how much her body ached for his. She was shaking with the magnitude of feelings that had overcome her facade. Tears not heeding, goosebumps all over her arms, she extended her hand which he took hesitantly and gave a light shake. It was awkward and when she realised, she threw open the doors and he sat beside her, undecided. The driver cleared his throat to make his presence felt and to draw attention to the moving traffic.
          "Wait a few minutes." she ordered driver and he resigned.

         "How are you Alisha?" he asked.
         Alisha.. Alisha.. that deep voice. She wanted to melt into his arms and fuse in the heat.. His voice reverberated on her ear drums..
        She wanted to scream out and tell him she was wrong. She was ridiculously wrong. 
       "Umm I m fine Ravi, and you?" she said instead.
       " I m doing good." He tapped his foot lightly.. Impatience and shock..
       " Did you find your perfect romantic guy?" he asked, unable to contain himself.
       Can I just hug you once? Make love to you like it was the end of my life? Can I just get consumed in the surfeit of lust? Can I just rest on your arms and stare at the ceiling? Can I just feel human again?
        "Yes, I found him" she lied.
        "Good for you! I m waiting for my wife here. I have to go or she will search for me."
        He moved out without any hint of further contact. He did not want her anymore.

        "Chale madam?" The irritated driver asked.
        "Bas 2 minute."
        She saw him waiting for sometime.. A woman appeared from the shopping center. He took some of the bags she had. She was a few inches shorter than him. Her long tresses were tightened with a clip and let loose on her back. Dressed in a simple salwar kameez, she cut a demure figure. They walked together. From inside the car, she saw him put his hands across her shoulders and his wife looking at him. Her eyes lighting up and a smile of satisfactions playing on her lips. It could all have been mine.

       For the first time in 5 years, she had been late. She knocked at the door. A potbellied man in his 50s opened the door and growled,
      "Itna late! Khudko kareena samajti hai kya?"
      Without waiting for her reply, he pulled her in, clawing at her breasts and she started with her work.
      She lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. She heard the flush in the bathroom and picked up her clothes. Her bruised body aching with every movement. She was spent. The man came grinning and for a moment she dreaded that he might want another go. He pulled out a wad of notes and threw at her. She was relieved when he walked out of the room.
      She dressed up and stood in front of the mirror. Sprayed the musk perfume that couldn't take away the acrid smell of rough sex. She brushed her shoulder length hair straight that sat as tangled as her life. She emphasized the lines of her eyes with the kohl which failed to hide the shame in them. She painted her lips crimson that tasted metallic of blood. She adjusted her clothes as she crumbled within. She looked at herself, so pretty, so digusting.

      She had treaded carelessly in the lanes of love. Rejected the man who could have given her a dignified life. Shunned the relations that pulled her back only to protect her. She opened all avenues for a romantic liasion. She dressed up in clothes that she thought grabbed eyeballs. She did not think they looked promiscous to men who stared at her chest. She was getting the attention that she deserved! For what? That didn't matter.
      Blinded by the dazzle of attention bestowed by a young man, she walked into her own downfall. He played with words so sweet as honey, dreams as high as sky and her feelings so fragile as glass. She went, of her own volition, beyond the limits that demarcated the two worlds. Of dignity and slavery. Of decency and vulgarity. Of class and cheapness. Reputation and disrespect. As word went around, she was swarmed with calls of men breathing into the receiver, asking her rate. Disowned by the family that she herself broke ties from, she was left to fend for herself. Thrown away from her PG accomodation, she was shown the door by all she knew. Until the door that opened to her present life..
      Pierced and burnt, her heart was wrecked. Blood gushed out until it no more hurt. Until she saw Ravi. The frozen tears now knew no boundaries..She could blame no one.. For it had all been her choice..


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Lip Balm Girl..

           It was a new day for him. After struggling for 2 years, he finally became a permanent employee with his firm. It was easier to get that in the night shift and he had been offered more pay but he simply couldn't carry on that harrowing lifestyle. He aimed for the day shift and the firm had proclaimed that there were no vacancies. He had toiled the dark hours in the hope that his hard work would be rewarded. It did. Like it happens with anyone who refuses to give in to temptations of the perks that comes with working nights in a call center, he got it later than all his counterparts.

          He waited sharp at 8 am for the conveyance car to pick him up. For two years he had stood outside the gate at 6 pm and returned in the ungodly hours of the morning. The watchman gave him a sly smile as he stood tapping his feet in anticipation.
          Finally the car arrived and he got in. The other two men at the back seat shuffled to make space for him. He noticed that they weren't making efforts to let him be comfortable. Instead, they exchanged looks and sneered. He was taken aback by their insolence but remained mute. No one attempted to break the ice.

            It was a good day to begin the day shift. The work was pretty relaxed and he was well acquainted with the nuances of the tasks and completed them with ease. He was feeling positive after the words of praise from his senior and the chances of his getting an appraisal seemed imminent. He made an inquiry about the shuttle car and learnt that another one goes the same route but 10 minutes before the one he took today. He informed the person who managed the services to change his car. "Do not like the company in that car" he sited casually to someone. The driver of his car gave a perplexed look nearby. He did not notice.
           The next day, he was charged up with the prospects of his work. It was good to be working like others and not creeping in at odd hours.
           The car screeched to a halt as he was engrossed in his thought process. It broke his reverie and he climbed in. He sat in the front seat as three ladies were already sitting in the back. One of the them was busily chatting over her phone. She smiled at him and then started frantically typing away at the screen. The girl sitting in the center greeted him and seemed upbeat. She introduced herself. He seemed at discomfort with her open behavior. He was an introvert and shied away from social interactions, specially with the opposite sex. He talked to her briefly about his shift and then resigned back. It was the girl at the window seat who had caught his attention. She seemed in a trance. She closed her eyes as she listened to the music on her ipod. She had opened her eyes when he had boarded, as if acknowledging his presence. She crept back into her own world after that. The ladies were definitely a better company. His thoughts went back to the girl at the window.

            Her dark, moist eyes, that she had momentarily opened, had enchanted him. He could see her in the rear mirror. She had shoulder length layered hair which tumbled on her forehead as the vehicle surged forward. She brushed it aside with her thin fingers. Her wheatish complexion was flawless. She wasn't exactly thin but she wasn't fat either. She was a picture of tranquility as she sat immersed in the music. As if by instinct, she shut the music when they were a few minutes away from office. She dug her hands into her handbag and retrieved her lip balm. He watched her transfixed as she applied the lip balm. It was tiltillating, the movement of her lips as she spread the balm across them. That instant, he registered her as the "Lip balm girl" in his mind.

           As the week progressed, going to office had assumed a whole new meaning for him. Office hours revolved around her. He knew where she got down on their way back home. From that day, he went all the way to the first halt which was about 3 kms away from his home. He was the first to be picked up and she was second. Shortly after she got in, Jyothsna entered. Jyothsna was the girl who had first started talking to him. She had asked him how he had come first but he did not reply. Jyothsna left him to himself. The last girl was picked a few blocks away from his house.

         In the evening he was last to be dropped and from there he travelled back to his home. The shift was only 8 hours but this new endeavor required him 10-12 hours out of the house. It was all worth it for him. On an average day, he would get to see her for 2 hours. Sometimes she would come to the common cafe and he would relish her sweet presence from a distance. That was an added bonus, sitting in the cafe. He had stopped going to his department cafe and would spend his time in the common cafetaria. It was hectic but he was determined. He did it with a fervent passion. As to what exactly he would achieve out of it, he failed to see.

        3 months of his relentless obsession had paid off that monsoon. It had been raining a lot  that week. The office saw a lot of absentee owing to bouts of viral and diarrhea. That morning as he reached her halt, she was standing all alone holding an umbrella. The wind had played its trick with her hair and it danced freely. It had carried pearls of droplets on her face. She struggled to fold the umbrella when she saw the car. Seizing the opportunity, he came to her rescue. He folded her umbrella as she quickly slid into her usual seat. He sneaked beside her. He was astounded by his own show of courage but it was swiftly replaced by pusillanimity as their skins brushed when she reached out her hand to take her umbrella from him. He was electrified by that touch. It hadn't been deliberate but it sent shocks to his core.

         "Thanks" she whimpered, shivering.
         He had lost his voice. He fumbled. He was frustrated by his own lack of confidence.
         "Welcome" he finally found the words.
         "I m Sagar" once again he floated in a surge of adrenaline
         "Drishti" she replied

      She reached into her handbag and took out a hand towel. She wiped the rain drops adorning her arms and face. She tried to dry her hair but the cloth was too soaked to absorb any further. She gently shook them to set the water droplets free. She then took out a hairband and pushed her hair behind, the tresses on her forehead now tamed. She folded the towel and kept it in a polythene bag which she pushed into her handbag. She fished out her ipod and sunk into the music, drowning every other realm. She kept her eyes open, perhaps concious of the man sitting beside her.

      He watched her, amused. The handbag was like a pandora's box. She carried everything with her. He, on the other hand, carried just his handkerchief and wallet in his trouser pockets. He was exulting in the progress. "Lip balm girl" was "Drishti". She knew his name now. Maybe she would open up a conversation now. She emanated a perfume of strawberry. It was the first time he had smelt her. She looked even more beautiful in that wet hair. Should he start talking about the weather? or the office? He was still in thoughts when the other girl's halt came. It would not happen now..

      It had been 4 weeks since  they had first opened conversation. He was emboldened by her smiling "hello" as she met him every day in the car. He took the initiative to send her a friend's request on facebook. To his delight, she promptly accepted it. Days began rolling as their chats progressed. He was in a happier place now. He did not mind the long detour he took everyday to spend time in her company. He realised she was an introvert just like him but her chats were eloquent. They came close through the transpiring chats but remained strangers in person. It wasn't much but it was a start.

      It was the day he planned to ask her out for a date. He had never, in his 26 years of existence, been bold enough to do that. Financial constraints had taught him early to keep away from the carefree boys in his class. He kept to himself as he could not splurge like them. It was in these impressionable years that he learnt the art of disappearing. No one really noticed him. He could just camouflage into an environment. He felt it quintessential to make out of college with a good job. Alas! No one employed a tongue-tied youth like him. The next few years he spent doing mediocre jobs which gave no scope for romantic pursuits. Now life was looking up for him.
      He went over his dialogue again. Memorizing each line. His heart was pumping violently when her pick up point approached. Only Jyothsna entered. He looked perturbed.
      "She won't come today" Jyothsna answered the unasked question.
      "Why?" he asked despite himself.
      "She is getting engaged today."

      His world had crumbled around him. How could she do that to him? She was aware of his feelings for her and reciprocated it and yet she thought nothing of telling him. She did not turn up the whole week. His desperation gave way to frustration and then to hopelessness. He walked about like a ghost. He did not eat, he did not sleep. He was distracted at work and received dressing down for the same. It seemed to not affect him at all. All he saw was her face, engulfing all his living hours..

     He had made peace with his misfortune. He was convinced that he was doomed to a lonely life. Drishti came back to work but remained nonchalant. It was eating him up but he chose to stay mum. He did not want to intervene in her life and nor did he want to embarrass her with his question. Rather, he feared his own insult. After all, what was he in front of her? She the image of perfection and he, a sculpture of failure.


  "Sagar, where are you?" his mother shrieked over the phone.
  He had just woken up. His body ached and his throat was sore. He ran his hand through his hair, it was wet. Did the power go off at night and he sweat so profusely? He felt strange. He turned his attention back to the phone.
   "Maa, I just woke up."
   "Oh, thank god! I was so worried after your call last night."
   "Ma, what are you saying? When did I call you?" he asked nervously.
   "It's ok beta. You rest, we will talk when you are calm."
   "But what happened?" he was confused now.
   "Relax.. I will call you later. Take care." She hung up.

   He went to work on his own, knowing that he missed the car. He was late and the system wouldn't accept his card. He tried calling his team leader but he did not receive the call.
    The security guard at the entrance came rushing.
    "Sorry sir, an inquiry is going on in the office. We had to keep the system off for some reason."
    "What inquiry?" he asked.
    "Don't you know? Drishti madam was murdered last night."


    He knew he was doing wrong, but his legs wouldn't heed.
    "I did not do anything" he repeatedly muttered to himself and kept running.
    He reached the bend of the road and retched. Following his heels closely, came a police team.


   "He does not know anything" emphasized the head of team of experts.
   "How can that be? We have strong circumstantial evidence. His prints are everywhere! His phone call to his mother was made just before the murder and from the same location." said the bewildered inspector Yadav who was leading the investigations.
    " I did not say he didn't commit the crime. I m just saying that he does not know about it."
    "  Are you implying what I think you are?" he raised his brow.
    "Yes, he is a schizophrenic that is clear. He has no memory of what he did that night. We need to carry more tests." the doctor said grimly.


        Drishti had no inkling of the notions that Sagar nurtured for her. She had never had any exchange with him after that rainy day. She drowned herself in music like she always did. One evening she checked her facebook account and saw his friend's request. She did not feel like adding him and ignored it. Her engagement was drawing close and she was preparing full swing to marry her long term partner.
       Jyothsna had casually hinted about Sagar's interest to her one afternoon. Drishti had been alarmed but Sagar's composure even after the news of her engagement had calmed her. Crushes were common in such situations and she was relieved with his lack of interference.

       That fateful day, she had gone to the beauty parlor and by the time she got done, it was already 8. It was Sunday night and she was excited about the impending long leave she was taking for her marriage. She was turning to her house, when she saw someone walking behind her. The street was unusually deserted given the India-Pakistan match and the turn was dark. She started hurrying but was soon overtaken by the forceful hand that pulled her near the green isolated patch. She was petrified and no voice came out of her.

       "Why! Why did you play with me? I love you but you don't see that!" he accused her.

       She wanted to scream. Tell him that she never even talked to him. She never chatted with him or told him that she loved him. Why was he making this up? What would he do to her? Would he ruin her, throw acid, rape her or simply burn her alive? Was this the moment that she had avoided all her life?

       True fear numbs you and makes you forget to scream. The bloodshot eyes of Sagar and his maniac smile was enough to paralyse her. She thought she could plead, placate him somehow but he was unforgiving. He tightened his grip on her neck and strangled her with bare hands. Her last thoughts were about her family, so excited about her marriage..


      "Ma your son isn't a loser like you think" he had called her.
      "What are you talking about?" asked his confused mother.
      "No girl can refuse me, I will kill her if she does." He cut the call. He walked away in the rains..


     "Did you hear? It was that Sagar who killed Drishti. What a beautiful girl she was. They say her eyes were popping out when she died." The cab drivers talked over tea.
     "I knew he was crazy." said one of them.
     " How? He looked so suave and gentle." said the regular cab driver who drove Sagar.
     "Arre I dropped him one day before he shifted to your cab. He said he had problem with the co-passengers!"
     "So what?"
     " Just that, that day no one else other than him was in the cab. I kept looking at him and he behaved as if someone is sitting next to him. I was scared you see. If I said anything, these rich people will say I come to work drunk."
      The others nodded in agreement.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Predators of the Night

        She logged into Yahoo Messenger. Which city it shall be today? She thought of where she would want to be right now. Maybe Goa?  She entered the Goa chat room.

Her screen started buzzing with messages.  “ASL please” was how they started. They all had the same thing to ask. She took a moment to decide who she should reply first.  It was fun to pick up the one she would chat this month. They  buzzed her like she was the queen bee and they all wanted to mate with her. It was true. She was one of the few girls on the chat. Every room was overcrowded with desperate-to-get-laid men. She chose the one named “snowandrains” who was eager enough to give his details as 24 M Goa. 

“Hey! 19 F Mum” She knew the response would be immediate. No one let go of a 19 yr old female.  She anticipated the next question. “DO you have a cam”? They all wanted to confirm she was indeed a girl and not a fake id. Who would want to share their sleazy nights with someone who claimed to be a girl but had balls? She pictured them in her mind. The geeky, thick spectacled engineering students who never hit on a girl in real world, the pot-bellied middle aged men who settled in gulf countries away from their families, the horny uncles whose daughters were as old as her, the school boys who had just hit puberty and were driven with hormones to explore the unknown. This  24 M “snowandrains” could be any of the categories. No one really tells their age accurately. It is always between 18 and 25 on chat. 

“Hey Dreamgirl, thank you for adding me” such chivalry
“You are welcome snowandrains” she typed

Unlike the other men who came straight to the point, snowandrains kept their chats neutral. He was well read and used to keep himself updated about his surroundings. He was world wise. Slowly, they began to nurture a companionship. They talked about growing up, studies, job, friends, internet, politics and everything else under the sun. They stimulated each other intellectually. She felt at ease with him. Yet, snowandrains had not asked her to reveal her cam. He was that stranger in some part of the world who was her friend.  It was not necessary that the location given on chat would be true. “Age sex location” could hardly be authentic.  It didn’t matter to both of them and they didn’t prod further about their details. 

“How are you so sure that I m a girl?” she asked him out of curiosity one day.
“I love to study people. I know them by the way they speak, the words they use and the phrases their sentences contain.” 
“So what have you studied about me?” 
“Umm... well you are extremely clear about what you want. You are head strong, very mature and definitely a girl.
“You got it right so far.”
“You have a past.” 
This caught her unaware. How could he know? He was just shooting in the dark.
“Everyone has a past” she snubbed it
“Yours is disturbing. I don’t know what it is. I don’t want you to revisit it but it is a dark secret.” 
“Maybe” She signed out.

He had just made a guess. She was right. Everyone has a past. She hadn’t denied it. 
They resumed their chats the next day. He didn’t apologize for what he had said. They were learning about each other. He confided in her that he was actually 26 and lived in Goa. She maintained that she had been honest about her details.  They saw each other on cam three weeks after they had started chatting. 

“Dream girl, you are beautiful” He had said.
His hairline was receding. His smile was enchanting. His eyes were narrow with bushy eyebrows. He had a double chin already. Overall he looked like an average man in his mid twenties. 
“Dreamy girl, I m coming to Mumbai for a seminar. Would you meet me?”

She should have guessed his intentions. She was apprehensive at first but he had convinced her. She agreed to meet him. 
He was staying in a hotel in the outskirts of the city. She had suggested he stay there as it was close to her place. He had happily agreed. They decided to meet at Café Coffee Day which was midway between his hotel and her house.  She reached on time but he was not there. She had thought he would be the first one to come. She called him from a booth outside CCD. He told her he was not keeping well and was faint to even go to a doctor. He insisted she come to the hotel as he would be leaving the next morning. He wanted to meet her badly but was sorry that his health did not permit it. 

She reached the hotel. It looked shady. There was no attendant at the reception. What kind of a place was this? It was a one storied hotel and she doubted it had any other occupant. She went to the room he had told her to.  The door opened at the first knock.  He appeared at the door smiling and in perfect health. 

He asked her to sit. He told her he would change in a moment and they could go to a doctor. She was sweating already. 
He came back with only his underpants on. So this was why he had called her! He sat beside her, snuggling close to her. He held her hand and caressed her cheeks. He tried to grope her. She wanted to resist but she didn’t.  She didn’t move as the needle penetrated into the skin. 

They found him on the hotel floor. He was castrated and bled to death. Doctors found “zolpidem”, a kind of “date rape” drug in his body. The last call on his phone was made from a booth, the operator of which was blind. No one had seen any girl entering the room but the attendant saw someone running out.  No one knew of his yahoo “snowandrains” account which he used from a cyber café. 

She logged into Yahoo Messenger. Which city shall it be today? She missed the hills. She entered the Shimla chat room. This time she might herself visit and take care of the predator.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What comes around

          Appa used to say, “Don’t you waste food.  You are insulting Anna. What you are throwing away so carelessly, one day you might have to struggle for it.” 
          Amma would always intervene when Appa tried to raise his voice on me. She would quickly take my plantain leaf and feed the left over to dogs. Appa would give her a stern look and then resign to smoking his beedi. Amma would then quietly wipe the mess of rice around me. She would then bring water for me to rinse my mouth and running a hand over my long hair would say, “Take only how much you can eat. Eat in small morsels. Don’t hurry. See how much we throw every day. It’s not good my child.” I would just ignore what she said and go out to play in the verandah.

          Appa would drink his tea after finishing his beedi. He would call me to sit with him and let me take a sip of tea. Amma would be cross with him if she caught me drinking tea. Appa would nevertheless indulge me with a sip of tea everyday and with ice candy when we went to the Thursday market. Appa went to the fields again and return only in the evening. He worked hard along with the farm helps. He sometimes shared his mid day meals with them when I and Amma went to the temple. When we were home, he always had lunch with us. Appa and Amma were my grandfather and grandmother respectively. I lost my parents when I was only 2 and Appa would never tell me how.  I would eavesdrop on the conversation of Appa with other landlords and would keep hearing the word “Communists”. I did not know what it meant.

        When I was 14, the air was filled with tension in our village. Many landlords lost their land and had to move to other villages. Appa had a small land which would suffice our needs and those of the laborers. A negligible, if any, profit was made. I was unaware of our dwindling financial condition. How would I know? I was too self engrossed and carefree to realize what was happening. I had turned into a spoilt brat and Appa was constantly irritating me with his sermons. Amma tried hard to teach me some cooking, sewing, drawing rangoli, decorating the house etc so that I would get a good groom and get away from the village but I was too lazy to do any of it. I saw dreams of a prince talking me away on his horse and living in the palatial comforts with servants at my beck and call. I had such royal tantrums with the maids working in our house. I was rude to them and insulted them for their lowly caste. Appa had overheard one such outburst and ordered me to apologize. I was so full of pride that I had told Appa that I would not say sorry to a cheap maid. Appa had not talked to me for days and finally I gave in to his wish.

        “Ratna, you idiot! Why is the light in the verandah still on and why is Tommy still fastened to his leash?” Memsaab shouted from the upper room.
         I jolted from my thoughts. I let the Labrador loose and switched off the lights. All the work for the day was done. The plates were washed and wiped till I could see my face in it. They were all arranged like the Madam liked. The vegetables were cut and kept ready for the next day. After making sure that no chore was left, I sat by the kitchen wall. Eating a meal of 2 chapattis and some rice with leftover gravy, tears stream down my cheek.  On some days I get only chapattis and onion. My stomach growled with hunger and I kept the pangs at bay by drinking the cool water from the earthen pot. My steel plate was without a grain! I opened the tug at the end of my handkerchief and ate some of the berries which Madam had told me to throw in the afternoon. They were sour but they filled my stomach just fine.

         I lay on the kitchen floor on a thatched mat. I mumbled the prayer that Appa and Amma had taught me. The prayer thanked the Goddess for giving food that day.  Somehow uttering the chants made me feel close to home. Close to Amma and Appa.

        When I was 16, our land was taken from us. We lived in hutments in forest patch. Amma died of respiratory problems shortly and Appa was a broken man. The village had changed drastically and droughts had made it impossible to get work on the fields. Appa sent me to Chennai with his relative before he breathed his last.

        Like Appa had once said, I now struggle for food. My skin sticks to my bones now and I m no longer the beautiful proud girl. If only I had valued what I had. At least the madam doesn’t treat me as bad as I had treated my maids..


Image: courtesy google

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cold Death

      She woke up with a parched throat. Struggling to free her eyes from the deep slumber, she groped for the tissue on the bedside. Sneezing into the tissue, she made her way to the kitchen. She poured herself some warm water  and hastily gulped it.

      The retreated back to her room, cursing herself for not wearing socks to bed. The cold floor would only add to her agony. She gathered the sheets at the foot of the bed and pulled them above her. Sleep was still lingering like a patient lover. She tucked her toes under the sheets and rested her head on the pillow. She was about to doze when she suddenly felt the urge to look for the tissues. Her nose flared like bulls raging and she waited to relieve herself. She covered her nose in the tissues and when she withdrew the hands, the tissue was covered in blood.

       Her heart pounding hard on her ribs, she collected herself and took another look at the tissue. They had stained red. She was wide awake and beads of perspiration formed on her forehead.

       "What was this disease of sneezing blood" she wondered to herself.
       "Is this it? Is this how I discover that I m terminally ill? Or maybe die instantly? "
        Her eyes watered with all the strain of cough and sneezing and a tear trickled down her cheek.
        The drop coursed it's way through the hollows of her body and reached to the yellow tissue paper.. It turned red...

       "Bloody idiot! I told him I always bought the white one!" She remembered arguing with the shopkeeper who insisted on buying this new "cheaper and better" yellow tissue paper pack. All other shops had closed down due to weekly off and she had had no choice but to yield to his repeated advertising.

       She wiped her face clean and headed back to sleep, feeling warm and smiling.
       "Dear God, I pretty much thought I m dead" she laughed at herself.

       .. True Story..

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Time for a Change

           I always find the beginning of a post very challenging. I write and click backspace every single word until I finally arrive at something, I think, will not discourage readers from continuing further :P I find non-fiction posts challenging because of the same reason. How do I break the ice? What do I start from?

           Writing on one such story is a tricky terrain. On one part all my fantasies and imaginations are indulged in, even applauded. When it's non-fiction I have a tight rope walk to do. I slip my act and I get snubbed for the same. The first story on One such story was a fiction written in first person. I was put to so many questions and invited unwanted gossip because of the same. I mention "Fiction" whenever I write in first person since then.

            Writing under your real name is a bane sometimes. Your life is open for everyone to scrutinize. I refrain from pouring out all that permeates my imagination. Not only in my writings, but also in my day to day interactions with people, I m fiercely guarded about myself. I have been hurt, I have been ridiculed, I have been taken for granted, I have been assumed to not mind what others say. I wear my scars on myself. I dread to get too close to people. I hesitate to attach myself to emotions that wouldn't be reciprocated or worse, be rejected. I would rather be reserved than be broken.
            There's another thing with writing non-fiction. It is tough to control the flow :P You never know where you drift! Unlike the carefully devised plots, writing about oneself isn't easy.
          There are days when  I do not feel like playing God. I do not wish to paint my characters in colours I see around. The words refuse to oblige me. It frustrates me to not command it. I feel cheated by a long term spouse. I click on new post and ponder for hours even though I m busy playing mindless games. I read other blogs and search for words to express my views or sincerely applaud their writings. But I feel short. Short of words. I close down the screen and go back to a life of mediocrity. A life of completing journals and making plans of writing the next day.

          I decided I have had enough. Enough of sitting idle in front of the screen. I made up my mind to clear the clutter and make a fresh start. I have been thinking of changing the blog look. As usual I have been stuck up in the drudgery of my routine. It was only when my brother had an assignment, as a part of his technology education, and urged me to help him open a blog, I geared up to design a blog for him. I had forgotten the joys of creating a page that reflects a lot of yourself. Scouting for images, making the header, selection the color combinations could be so refreshing when you have been pulling yourself from one day to other :(

        One such story has always been red and  buff colored. It was a lot about love and passion. I have been meaning to change to a white background. Peaceful and inspiring. A blank that comes into your hands and you color it the way you want. The text and images are bigger and soothing. It just mirrors the present me. All I want is peace and the inner tumult to reach its fruitful conclusion.

With hopes still surging..